It's Colts week, part two, and we broke this team down in full just two weeks ago. Unfortunately, not much has changed from my last Know Your Foe article on the Colts, other than the record. Frank Reich's team came to Houston two weeks ago with seven wins on the docket and will see Houston again on Sunday as a dangerous 9-4, top of the AFC South monster.
Against the Raiders, the Colts running game got cranked up and rammed it right down Las Vegas' throat. Rookie running back Jonathan Taylor ran for a career high 150 yards and two touchdowns. The Colts totaled 212 yards on the ground, averaging 6.8 yards per carry, while Philip Rivers kept the mistakes to a minimum. He went another game without throwing a pick, while throwing two touchdowns in the process, both to GUESS WHO?!?, T.Y. Hilton.
With no further ado, let's get to Know, yet again, our Week Fifteen Foe - the Indianapolis Colts.
2020 Schedule (9-4)
L, @ Jacksonville Jaguars 27-20
W, Minnesota Vikings 28-11
W, New York Jets 36-7
W, @ Chicago Bears 19-11
L, @ Cleveland Browns 32-23
W, Cincinnati Bengals 31-27
W, @ Detroit Lions 41-21
L, Baltimore Ravens 24-10
W, @ Tennessee Ravens 34-17
W, Green Bay Packers 34-31
L, Tennessee Titans 45-26
W, @ Houston Texans 26-20
W, @ Las Vegas Raiders 44-27
Colts OFFENSE (in 2020 regular season)
Rushing Yards Per game - 113.0 ypg (8th in the NFL)
Passing Yards Per game - 263.7 ypg (10th)
Total offense per game - 376.7 ypg (9th)
Turnovers lost - 12 (9 INT, 3 Fumbles lost)
Expected Colts starting offense for Week Thirteen
QB - PHILIP RIVERS
RB - JONATHAN TAYLOR/Nyheim Hines
WR - T.Y. Hilton
WR - MICHAEL PITTMAN JR.
TE - Jack Doyle/Trey Burton
TE - MO ALIE-COX
LT - Anthony Castonzo
LG - Quenton Nelson
C - Ryan Kelly
RG - Mark Glowinski
RG - Braden Smith
Other Key Offensive pieces
RB - Jordan Wilkins
Weapon X - De'Michael Harris
WR - Zach Pascal
C - Danny Pinter
WR - Marcus Johnson
OT - Chaz Green
Bold - Rookie
ALL CAPS - New starter in 2020
Updated Keys to winning v. the Colts Offense
- Hilton Honors - Since he finally reached 100% health status, T.Y. Hilton has been on fire for the Colts. In the last three games, Hilton has 17 receptions for 277 yards and four touchdowns. For the season, those numbers account for 37% of his receptions, 46% of his yards and 100% of his touchdowns. The Colts do a bang up job getting him isolated in the passing game, but when it's allowable, the Texans have to bring help on Hilton to keep him from exploding again in the passing game.
- Rookie runner - Colts running back Jonathan Taylor is an absolute dude and he's running like the NFL tailback that GM Chris Ballard thought he was drafting at No. 41 in the 2020 NFL Draft. He's got speed to burn and when he gets out into space, it's trouble. Against the Raiders, that's all he had was space, seemingly, but when the Raiders played with proper gap integrity, Taylor was unable to find a gap to sprint through for big yards. Unfortunately, the Raiders didn't play that way for a full 60 minutes or even close to it. GAP INTEGRITY is an absolute must.
- Tackling Time - Oh, my gosh Texans, please tackle. If there's something I absolutely, 100000% want, and NEED, to see from this defense it's as close to 100% tackling as possible. The Texans have been an excellent tackling team in the past, but that hasn't always been the case this year. Sunday, though, is another test against Taylor, and it's the biggest test until Derrick Henry arrives in Houston in week 17.
- Read and React - That term was often used to describe non-aggressive defenses in the 1990s and it drove fans crazy. But, in this sense, it doesn't refer to the style of the Texans defense, but what the Texans second and third level defenders must do to account for actions of the front. Here's what I mean...a great example was Nyheim Hines's five yard touchdown run in the first game. Outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus caved in the right side of the Colts line, which should have been read, and reacted appropriately to, by second and third level defenders. Unfortunately, Mercilus efforts were not rewarded as those players at depth didn't read and react properly to help make the stop on Hines.
- Pigskin Pastries - Let's go to the bakery this weekend and get some turnovers!
Colts DEFENSE (in 2020 regular season)
Rushing Yards Allowed Per game - 99.2 ypg (5th in the NFL)
Passing Yards Allowed Per game - 227.8 ypg (13th)
Total offense Allowed per game - 327.1 ypg (6th)
Turnovers generated - 17 (15 INT, 7 Fumble recoveries - Colts are +10 (!!) in TO margin)
Expected Colts starting defense for Week Thirteen
DE - Justin Houston/Al-Quadin Muhammad
DT - DeFOREST BUCKNER
DT - Grover Stewart
DT - Denico Autry
WLB - Darius Leonard
MLB - Anthony Walker
CB - Rock Ya-Sin
CB - Kenny Moore II
S - JULIAN BLACKMON
S - KHARI WILLIS
CB - XAVIER RHODES
Other Key Defensive pieces
DE - Kemoko Turay
S - Tavon Wilson
LB - Bobby Okereke
DL - Tyquan Lewis
CB - T.J. Carrie
CB/KR - Tremon Smith
Bold - Rookie
ALL CAPS - New starter in 2020
Keys to winning v. the Colts Defense
- North/South - there's no way around it, really. If the Texans want to have any sort of offensive run game success, the Texans have no choice but to go right at the Colts interior, scary though that may be. Running back Buddy Howell is a bull in a china shop when he's toting the mail and he was able to rip off four or five yard gains early in the downs by attacking north and south against the Bears. Here's hoping he, and the rest of the backs, can do more of that against the Colts.
- A Warring warning - If there's something that I would love to see more than anything else offensively on Sunday, it's getting second year tight end Kahale Warring involved in the passing game. He's only had a couple of targets this year but he can create some issues for the Colts interior pass defenders with his size and athleticism. He just has to make one play to get his confidence going and then hopefully rock on from there.
- Coutee Continued Coming (out) - Against the Colts, Keke Coutee has been outstanding in his career. It must be something about seeing that horseshoe, so let's hope more of his typical production against the Colts is on the way on Sunday in Lucas Oil Stadium.
- Cooks counts - Receiver Brandin Cooks was sorely missed last week against the Bears and against a Colts squad that plays a ton of zone, Cooks is a vital piece to have in the lineup. He does a tremendous job finding open holes, settling in and making catches for first downs. Given his experience in the league, the value he provides in getting open on time is a huge thing for Deshaun Watson.
- Which one? - Okay, I couldn't come up with a solid alliteration one for this, so I turned into this...in the New England game, Keke Coutee stepped up in place of injured Randall Cobb nad made a ton of plays for this offense. Against the Colts a few weeks later, receiver Chad Hansen showed what he was capable of doing. Last week, running back Buddy Howell hammered the Bears on eleven second half carries, while receiver Steven Mitchell Jr. had three catches to help move the chain nearly every time. Each of the last few weeks, a Texans offensive player that spent most of the season on the practice squad, inactive list or without carries stepped up to say "HEY, I'M HERE". I'm all for finding another one on Sunday in a win over the Colts.
Check out some photos from the Houston Texans Week 13 game against the Indianapolis Colts on Battle Red Day presented by Mattress Firm.